AUSTRALIA’S national science agency’s new mobile device app, CSIRO Energise, is plugging in ‘people power’ to help researchers understand how energy is used around the country.
By using the new CSIRO Energise app, ‘citizen scientists’ will help to paint a clearer picture of contemporary energy use to guide research and decisions concerning Australia’s energy future.
For example, solid data can help overcome information gaps around how much households pay for energy, what is driving these costs, and how to reduce these costs into the future.
The app is a key component of CSIRO’s Energy Use Data Model project, which is collating, centralising and enhancing various streams of energy data.
Until now, this information has never been brought together, and the resulting platform will benefit researchers, government and industry.
Over time, users of CSIRO Energise will receive a range of ‘micro-surveys’ covering general household characteristics, tariffs and power costs, energy-usage patterns, appliances, uptake of renewables, and more.
The app will follow users’ responses over time and ask questions in response to specific events, like how air conditioning is used on hot days, and how that can then improve understanding and management of peak energy consumption.
CSIRO Energise is intended as a two-way communication channel, with users receiving insights including tips for energy efficiency in the home, cutting-edge research updates, and short videos from scientists.
CSIRO Energy director, Tim Finnigan said that by taking part, households across the country would provide valuable data to support the science that will ultimately improve national energy systems.
“We know the way Australians use energy is changing, but it’s important for us to know how quickly, and what’s driving that change,” Dr Finnigan said.
“CSIRO Energise will help fill missing pieces of the puzzle with robust, objective data in areas where our knowledge is lacking. This will ensure that CSIRO can continue to drive the innovation that guides an affordable, sustainable and reliable energy system.”
Project leader Adam Berry noted that consumer surveying has moved beyond large-scale mail-outs and focus groups.
“With CSIRO Energise we can ask important questions at critical points in time, for example in the wake of an extreme heatwave or unexpected blackout,” Dr Berry said.
“Getting this information quickly and from a broad sample of households means that we can quickly spot issues, and then start working on solutions.
“Every member of the public can make a valuable contribution to our work by completing these short surveys over time, telling us more about their energy world.”
CSIRO pointed out that data collected through the app remained on Australian servers, featured data encryption and was only accessible to authorised users.